Monday, October 28, 2013

My open letter to Julius Malema

Honourable Comrade Mr. Julius Sello Malema,

As a result of the letter you reportedly sent to the Beeld newspaper that explained why white people should vote for you, I would like your clarification on certain matters raised in the letter.

Your policy on land reform

In your letter, you allude to the fact that “The skewed ownership and control of arable land in South Africa is not only a black and white issue (which it vividly appears to be), but an intra-white unequal reality where less than 2% of the white population are in ownership and control of vast tracts of South Africa’s land. So we still have millions of white South Africans that still do not own the land, because it is owned by a few white individuals” and while this assertion is entirely accurate, I wish to know how your organisation proposes to deal with certain issues.

As a white youth in terms of the political definition, i.e. under the age of 35, I have no desire to own farmland or to operate a farm. I grew up in a farming community and I can tell you from both my personal experience and economic education that the reduction in the amount of farmers in the country is the result of a natural- as well as an economic regression. The natural regression I speak of is the simple fact that many young people like myself, even those whose parents have been farmers all their lives, simply have no desire to become farmers themselves and leave rural South Africa in search of professional economic opportunity in the larger cities of the country. In the event where they inherited their parents’ farms after they passed away, the land was simply sold to the highest bidder which is most often the neighbouring farmer.

The economic regression in the number of farmers in the country is the result of the fact that farming has very much become an economy of scale enterprise. So much so, in fact, that farming is quite simply not viable as a commercial business if one is not able to own a certain amount of farmland. The simple economic fact of the matter is that cost of seed, fuel and other necessary inputs have outgrown the income one can generate from a small scale farm by a staggering margin and fuel alone, for example, has experienced a 560% hike in price over the past two decades. With this in mind, how does your organisation propose to bridge the gap between the required initial capital outlay of purchasing the required equipment as well as the seasonal input costs like seed and fertilizer (plus the rent you aim to impose on the farmer) and the income that they can generate from a given tract of land? It is crucially important that this gap is bridged, because if it is not, the majority of South Africa’s arable land will degenerate into subsistence farming that will feed the tenants and cause widespread famine in the rest of our nation. Additionally, please inform me whether or not your Government will also take responsibility for or write off the outstanding bonds that the current owners of the farmland have against it.

Also provide me with an explanation of how you aim to counteract the skill disparity between the current owners and future tenants of the farmland. This is also not a black and white issue, even if it vividly appears as such, but most of the people in the country simply do not possess the required skills and knowledge to successfully manage a modern commercial farm. The historical facts surrounding land restitution projects are that as many as 80% of all land reform projects fail or are sold back to the previous owners within five years of the transfer taking place. The manner in which you aim to address this problem is economically important since a large scale failure of agriculture invariably leads to the type of hyperinflation that we have seen in our neighbouring Zimbabwe after its rapid land reform process.

I completely disagree with the notion that the current owners of the farmland have required it through illegitimate means as it is not lawful to punish a person for an action that was lawful at the time it was committed. You cannot, for instance punish motorists for every time they legally drove at the speed of 120 km/h when you decide that the maximum speed limit on the country’s roads should be 100 km per hour since their actions were legal at the time when they carried them out. There is also the question of whether is it actually juristically possible to punish the current owners of the land for the transgressions of their ancestors, since I am not aware that it is even possible to punish a person for the crimes committed by their great grandfather or even their brother or sister. While this is merely a philosophical difference of opinion, you should in the very least acknowledge the fact that the current owners, and in many cases their ancestors, of the farms have transformed the land to which you refer so regularly from untouched pieces of land into successful, viable agricultural land with all the equipment and infrastructure you might need. If only for this reason they should be compensated for their efforts or, failing compensation, they should be allowed do de-capitalise the farm by selling all the equipment and recycling all the infrastructure before they are removed from the farm, because whatever your argument may be, both the infrastructure and capital was obtained by legitimate means, even if the land itself was not.

The nationalisation of mines

With regards to your policy on the nationalisation of mines, can you please clarify for me exactly how your organisation proposes to prevent the loss of skills, knowledge and capital that will be associated with such an action without largescale infringements on the Constitutional and Human Rights of the citizenry?

It is by no means a stretch of the imagination that many of the current mine managers and executives will simply leave the country or make themselves unavailable to you for employment in the event that the mines are nationalised and it is at this juncture that I wish to remind you that Freedom of Movement and Freedom of Association are two of the central Human Rights included in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. How do you propose to prevent the loss of skill that their departure or unavailability would bring about?

On a more economic note, where will your Government get the estimated $2 trillion needed to purchase the mines and associated capital goods from the current owners? Alternatively, please give me an indication of how you propose to manage the exchange rate of our currency in the event that you plan to also do this without compensation? Moreover, the expropriation of

 the mines will also lead to a total collapse in direct foreign investment in the economy, so considering South Africa’s virtually non-existent culture of saving, where will the money to fund your proposed industrialisation and beneficiation of the resources come from and where will the resulting products be sold at comparable or lower prices, because most of our trading partners are only interested in the pure resources and not any resulting products which they produce themselves?

Join hands in fighting poverty

Sir, you must guard with extreme vigil against the notion that white people are insensitive to the plight of blacks or that the wealthy are in objection to the aspirations of the poor. While I do not presume to speak for anyone but myself, I consider this to be the most foolish thing that any modern day South African can make themselves guilty of, because the simple truth of the matter is that we are all affected by the extreme levels of poverty currently affecting the country as a whole and black people in particular. This is, however, not the time for rash political statements that create more economic questions than they answer as I have asked you but a few of the barrage of questions that your policies create by default. While I clearly understand your frustrations with the economic system as it currently stands, and thus your affection for the Freedom Charter of the ANC, we must all accept the unpalatable truth that the world has simply changed too much during the intervening period to ever allow a system of neo-communism to succeed or be effective. The very principles that founded Communism have been disproven through the many instances throughout world history, and even our own recent national history, where systems built around too high a level of central control have failed and miserably so. Their failure can almost invariably be ascribed to the fact that a too centralised modus of control simply allows too small an amount of people to abuse the system for their own gain, but if we really want to change our fortunes, we must first bring ourselves to accept a few unspoken truths

The unspoken truth of economics is that land is finite and that resources eventually run out, but that the capacity of a country’s people is without limit. There are for example, millions if not trillions of ounces of undiscovered gold beneath the soil of our rich nation, but they are located in such a manner that it is either impossible or uneconomical to exploit them; thus rendering them worthless to our economy. The unspoken truth of business and innovation is that very few innovators in the history of the world have turned the entire system on its head and that the super-wealthy people of today and history have merely changed the parts of the existing system that they could not bring themselves to agree with; Henry Ford, for instance, did not re-invent the automobile, he merely changed the production process while computers worked with punch cards until a man by the name of Bill Gates came along. The unspoken truth of politics is that no Government (regardless of its form, size or the economic system under which it operates) can ever empower its people. All a Government can do is to provide its people with the opportunities they require to empower themselves; something denied to black people by the Apartheid Government as you keep reminding us.

In summary, Comrade, we are sadly reliant on the existing economic system for it is the source of our power to change our country for the better and we must find ways of innovation inside that system if we are to succeed in our shared vision. I think that you would be pleasantly surprised about the amount of people, even your political “enemies,” that would support your policies if they were geared towards this and, in favour of furthering our discourse in this matter, I would provide you with examples of my meaning. Government currently owns 14% or 16.8 million hectares of arable land in South Africa and I cannot think of one person who would object if you proposed to use this land in the training of aspirant farmers or even it being used for the first instances of land reform in order to protect or improve our food security. I have also heard rumours of a desalinisation plant on the coast of the Northern Cape that could provide water for an irrigation scheme in the otherwise arid province; this is something I would support to the fullest and why not use this as another avenue for giving land to the landless. I would certainly never object to any comprehensive and workable suggestion on how to prevent and handle the staggering levels of corruption currently plaguing our Government on all levels and very few people would object to the national rollout of biometric systems to ensure that all of our country’s teachers are in class and teaching on time.

The simple truth is that Government lacks the credibility required to get the people to co-operate with any proposal if its own house is not in order and my suggestion would be that you start there before you attempt to slaughter the geese that lay the golden eggs.

Kind regards,

Spyti K


P.S: My sincerest apologies for the lengthy nature of this letter, but if I am to make an informed decision on possibly voting for your party, I must use this opportunity to the maximum. I also apologise if my use of the word “honourable” was too liberal to your liking.


  1. Spyti, a superb piece of knowledge displayed by you. I just don't think you will get a reply soon as JUJU will first have to find someone to explain it to him.
    Please post this on News24!

    1. I have sent a copy to the News24 Editors, but I have received no reply as of this morning. I am thus sadly reliant on shameless self advertising in an attempt to divert traffic from their website to this one.

  2. Very insightful analysis. I think people should stop seeing things simply in black and white. Things are often more complicated than they seem to be. Keep it up!

    1. From the racial perspective they are indeed more complicated, but from a pure economic standpoint the solutions are actually quite simple, but more on that in later pieces.

      The political problem stems from the fact that the EFF's policies promise quick "solutions" to people's problems while any other economic solutions take at least a decade to bear any meaningful fruit, thus making them near impossible to sell to an electorate that is predominantly impoverished.

  3. Good work my guy. We need to create a strong united South African voice that will open eyes. What happened back in the years cannot affect the future of the nation.

    1. I'm not at all suggesting that we merely forget all the horrors of Apartheid, because doing so will put us on the road to repeat all its mistakes, but I don't think that it should be the sole determinant of everything we attempt to do economically and it should certainly not be the excuse for getting into the foolishness suggested by the EFF.

  4. So well said. I just don't understand where the idea comes from that it is easy to farm, that by just having the land will magically make it profitable or even that you will succeed and overnight become rich. Farming in every country in the world is hard work, done by dedicated knowledgeable and often times indebted farmers - it is not something to be taken on lightly.

    1. Farming is easy actually, it's the simplest thing in the world to plant a few crops, water it and harvest in in due course or have a few grazing cattle in order to put food on your table, but the business of commercial farming is a different kettle of fish alltogether.